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The viral iPhone bride photo taught me a great camera trick – here’s how and when to use it

Published Dec 4th, 2023 6:50AM EST
iPhone glitch photo: computational photography explains
Image: Tessa Coates/Instagram

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Taken with an iPhone, the photo of a bride trying out a dress became a viral sensation over the weekend. The image showed the bride checking the dress out in front of a mirror. However, the reflections in the two mirrors were not identical to her pose. As you can see above, the position of the arms is different in all three positions.

This prompted speculation that the iPhone’s computational photography was to blame. A rare glitch in the matrix made the image possible. Other people might have thought about ChatGPT first when seeing the picture. One way or another, it seemed like AI was to blame for the unexplained photography.

It turns out there’s a simple explanation for how the bridal image was taken. It’s actually not an error but a great camera trick you can replicate in the right conditions. That’s because we’re looking at a panoramic shot the person who held the iPhone took.

Tessa Coates, co-host of Nobody Panic, is in that photo. She posted it on social media a few days ago, and that’s how the image took off, sending iPhone users into a frenzy. People wanted to know how it was possible. Here’s how she explained the image that someone took with her iPhone 12:

I went wedding dress shopping, and the fabric of reality crumbled. This is a real photo, not photoshopped, not a pano, not a Live Photo. If you can’t see the problem, please keep looking, and then you won’t be able to unsee it.

She clearly says it’s not a panoramic shot. But she didn’t take the photo. Someone else did, and they might have accidentally swiped right to bring up the Pano mode. I’m thinking the camera might have been set to Portrait for this specific set of images.

The explanation

How do I know it was panoramic mode? Well, Faruk Korkmaz from YouTube channel iPhonedo posted an explanation on social media. Not only did he prove the viral bride image is a panoramic photo, but he replicated it. That means anyone can take similar mind-bending photos without using programs like ChatGPT.

Korkmaz explained the image’s metadata doesn’t show the panorama indicator because the image is not wide enough. And, of course, it wouldn’t be. The person taking it didn’t want to take a panoramic shot. Maybe they didn’t realize they were in panorama mode in the first place. They took a regular photo. Or so they thought.

What happened is typical for panorama mode photos. The iPhone’s AI took several images and stitched them together. That’s how it captured different hand poses for the subject. It all happened quickly, and the stitches are almost perfect. Again, there was no intention of shooting a panorama image. Therefore, the photographer didn’t move the iPhone around, as you would with panoramic images.

How to take your own mind-bending iPhone photos

The YouTuber posted a photo of his own, showing how you can get the same results. The way I see it, you need three things to happen.

First, you have to set the camera to Pano mode, but you won’t move the iPhone. You’ll take a regular photo.

Secondly, the subject will have to move slightly while you’re taking photos. They’ll probably have to do it at a regular-to-slow speed so that everything is in focus.

Thirdly, and probably the most important element, you’ll need mirrors. That’s the only way to capture the movement from step 2.

You might want to rinse and repeat for perfect results, but this accidental iPhone photo trick might get great results the more you play with it.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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